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Can the Human Eye See the Difference Between 1080p and 4K?

Dec 17, 2018

Better resolution has been the name of the game for televisions over the last decade. First it was color, then it was HD, then 720p, then 1080p and now, finally, 4K. Is more always better? At what point does resolution stop mattering? After all, the human eye is only capable of seeing so much detail, right? Have we already hit that threshold? In short, it depends. 

The difference between 1080p and 4K is undeniable in that a 4K screen is capable of displaying four times the number of pixels as a 1080p screen. But is the human eye capable of seeing that many pixels? It actually depends on the size of the screen and where you are sitting. From a distance, it is virtually impossible for someone to tell the difference in quality between a 1080p and 4K screen. However, if you have a big enough screen, in a small enough room the difference is immediately apparent. Even if you have a large room, if you sit close enough to the screen you can see the difference. 

It is also worth pointing out that the distance you need to be from the screen to notice the detail that 4K offers will differ depending on each individual's eyesight quality. For example, someone with 20/20 vision can sit farther away from a 4K screen and still see the difference, while someone with less than perfect vision may not. Naturally, if you do not have perfect vision but wear corrective lenses, you can sit farther back from the screen, as long as you are using those lenses. 

The size of the screen is also a major factor when it comes to being able to discern the difference between 1080p and 4K. The recommended size is different for computer monitors, because people naturally sit really close to their computer screens anyway. A living room television, however, is most often viewed from the couch. Most experts agree that the minimum screen size to be able to enjoy 4K without having to sit too close is 42 inches. The larger the screen, the farther away you can sit from it while still enjoying maximum image quality. This is all worth remembering as televisions with even higher pixel counts come to market. 

So yes, despite the rumors you may have heard floating around, the human eye is capable of seeing the difference between a 1080p screen and a 4K screen. The most important factors to remember are the quality of your eyesight, the size of your screen and the distance you sit from that screen when watching it.